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A Year In The Maine Woods Paperback – November 8, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (November 8, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201489392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201489392
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A professor of zoology at the University of Vermont, Heinrich here recounts a recent year he spent in the western Maine wilderness. With his pet raven Jack, he began his sojourn at the end of May. His cabin, without electricity or plumbing, sat in a clearing a half-mile up a steep brush-filled hill accessible only to four-wheel-drive vehicles. His mailbox was at the foot of the trail, and his nearest neighbors lived on the road beyond the mailbox. To keep in touch with family and friends, Heinrich, author of the National Book Award nominee Bumblebee Economics, installed a phone and answering machine in the neighbors' outhouse. He takes us through his busy summer and fall of chopping wood and making repairs to the cabin, all the while observing the wildlife around him. He battles with blackflies and mosquitos, mice and cluster flies. In January he conducts an on-site seminar for selected students. For readers who love the outdoors, even vicariously.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Heinrich, a zoology professor at the University of Vermont and the author of Ravens in Winter (LJ 8/89), has written an engaging book about his year of solitude in the southern Maine forest. Recalling Thoreau, he retires to a self-constructed log cabin, without electricity or running water, to study and write. Heinrich's account of the year is divided into four sections, one for each season, beginning with the summer that he set out for his cabin with his pet raven, Jack. Each section consists of small vignettes-some dated, as if from the author's journal, others lessons in biology, ecology, or astronomy. It is a tribute to his writing skill that the author quickly draws the reader into his world. From retrieving the spikes left by some Earth First! activists to making maple syrup to hauling dead calves into the woods for the ravens to feed on, Heinrich is consistently busy, yet he always finds time to run, rest, and meditate on the lessons the forest has to teach. This is a gem of a book. Recommended.
Randy Dykhuis, OHIONET, Columbus
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book to read and re-read.
HelloKitty
To fully appreciate this book, however, the reader needs to be knowledgeable about natural history.
Gordon A. Monkman
Most of Mr. Heinrich's books are delightful, they are always educational, as well as entertaining.
Matt Mattus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jena Ball on November 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
To appreciate Bernd Heinrich, you have to be prepared to slow down and look close. After all, the author himself has taken a year's leave of absence from a fast-paced university job to do just that. He wants to spend time in his beloved woods, study the creatures that live there and see where long rambles will take him. It not the sort of book to begin with an agenda in mind.
That said, I found A Year in the Maine Woods a quixotic mix of science and human exploits - a glimpse at the lives of a whole host of insects, birds, mammals and plant life I never knew existed, and a chance to share in one person's approach to learning.
Examples? Let's take Heinrich's penchant for climbing trees. For a full-grown, adult male he really does spend a lot of time in them, and as a result has some interesting stories to tell. There's the day he finds himself scrambling up a tree to avoid a moose who refuses to yield the right of way on a trail, and the time a doe wanders under the apple tree he is sitting in and proceeds to munch away. No amount of noise or movement on Heinrich's part seems to disturb her until he descends from the tree. Then she's off like a shot!
Here's another example. Heinrich loves ravens. He is fascinated by their intelligence, close-knit family systems, their flying ability and survival skills, and is not above combing the countryside for roadkill in order to provide food for them. Heinrich's exploits with a pet raven are both hilarious and revealing. Here is a man who delights in life itself and is willing to put up with a fair amount of discomfort and irritation to learn about it.
Read more ›
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ryder on March 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not planning to review this book, I changed my mind after perusing the reviews for "A Year in the Maine Woods." Most of them are by people who miss the point of his book (and, dare I say, life) entirely.
Yes, Bernd is foremost a Zoologist, and so does get a bit technical at times, but his over-whelming love of nature--and the sense that he's just a good guy doing what many of us are afraid to do (i.e. kick in our TeeVees and "get back to nature")--is enough for my vote.
In addition to the natural science found in these pages, I very much enjoyed his mundane, day-to-day observations (every time he made coffee or drank a beer, I inwardly smiled). He mixes his love for the woods with a few 21st-century earthly pleasures, as well he should. Of course he's no Thoreau, and I don't think he is in anyway trying to be. Still, he's a damn-sight closer to Nature and the ideas and mind of H.D.T than most.
Truly a pleasurable read. Thanks, Bernd.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By M. Dillon VINE VOICE on January 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the second book by Heinrich that I have read. The first, Ravens in Winter, I found very enjoyable. (see review)
Based on the title and a review written on the book's back cover, I expected the book to be about Heinrich's year alone, except for his pet raven, Jack. With this in mind I thought we'd learn about his discoveries in nature and also his understanding into his own thoughts as he pondered life in seclusion.
This was not a book about living in the wild woods of Maine in seclusion. Heinrich often went into town and ate, met with neighbors, had family visit, and at one point he had a number of students over for a couple of weeks. Was this bad...no, but not what I expected based on the review on his book's back cover.
Heinrich has a gift in sharing information about nature. His curiosity and excitement for the natural world is contagious. In this respect I wasn't let down. He did go on quite a bit about the various things he noticed, sometimes sharing too much information, but I would just skip the paragraph and move on.
I think what appeals to me most are the times he is in seclusion and reflects on nature and his own life. He endures an amazing amount of cold...below zero, doesn't have running water, and the inside temperature in his cabin dips down below freezing on several occasions. I would enjoy many of the aspects of living in the location he speaks of but I would do it with a few extras...insulation in the walls, and electricity are two that come to mind!
Overall I did enjoy the book and I hope you do too!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By melkonia@erols.com on July 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
We just took a vacation to Maine, in the same area the author stays for a year. It was great to see the descriptions of the countryside over the 4 seasons - not just the one that we saw. The author clearly describes nature and the intricate workings and interactions of all the plants and animals - especially insects and ravens. I felt sad that he saw so much so clearly, but did not (I am guessing) see God's hand in the creation of the finely tuned machine of nature. I never thought of lumbering as an environmental tool, so that was interesting. Loved the drawings of the plants and insects. Next walk I take will be a longer, more conscious one, thanks to this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Critic at large on December 29, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read several of Heinrich's books and have never been disappointed. Some reviewers compare him to Thoreau, favorably or not. While in certain places he does evoke thoughts of Thoreau, that is not what he is trying to do, contrary to what some reviewers seem to think.

As a word-class biologist and naturalist, Heinrich approaches his story of life in the Maine woods from two vantage points. First, as a scientist/naturalist, and then as a long-time resident of the area of Maine he calls home. The two themes are interwoven with a seasonal view of life in his cabin.

Unlike Thoreau, who was an amateur nineteenth century naturalist and literary philosopher, Heinrich has the advantage of being both a keen observer and a trained scientist, albeit one who grew up surrounded by nature before receiving his academic research training as a physiological ecologist. While some might find the detail he presents in places to be too much, those who really wish to learn about combining the powers of observation with scientific insights will be richly rewarded.

I must take exception to the reviewer who termed this book an "ego trip".
Heinrich is hardly parading his vast scientific knowledge for the sake of seeming erudite. The man has garnered numerous scientific and literary kudos, for both his research and nature writing, so I suspect he hardly needs to engage in an "ego trip" by trying to ape Thoreau. In fact, given his vast knowledge of biology, I would say that he strikes a good balance between telling a personal story and presenting scientific facts and insights in the context of his experience.

Having spent a few years in the area of Maine that Heinrich loves and writes about so well, I think that he does a wonderful job capturing both the nature and the lifestyle of rural Maine. If you are the type of person who enjoys taking walks in company of expertise, you will enjoy this book.
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More About the Author

Bernd Heinrich is a biologist and author of numerous books on the natural world. He lives in Richmond, VT, and in a cabin in the forests of western Maine.

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